While much of the world’s attention has been focused on the devastation and slaughter in Ukraine, one gun massacre after another continues in the United States.
Just yesterday a young eighteen years old gunman murdered at least 19 children and 2 teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. So far there have been 27 school shootings this year. Yesterday’s was the deadliest, since a gunman killed 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012. There is little known about the motivation of yesterday’s killer, except that he wanted to kill. Before going to the school he shot his grandmother. He had purchased the guns right after his eighteenth birthday.
On Saturday, May 14, 2022, when another 18 years old gunman opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. killing 10 people and injuring three more, we know he was motivated by white supremacy. Almost all of the Buffalo victims were Black. Prior to the shooting he had posted a manifesto, inspired by “the great replacement theory,” a racist conspiracy spreading in a number of Western countries.
The great replacement theory is the far-right belief that people from minority populations are replacing the existing white, largely Christian population. It inspired not only the Buffalo shooter but earlier mass killings, including the 2015 Charleston church shooting, the 2018 Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting, the 2019 shooting at a Walmart in El Paso and the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand.
Ironically many white Christian nationalists are strong supporters of “the great replacement.” There is absolutely nothing “Christian” about it. The historical Jesus – Yeshua – was not even white. He was a dark-skinned, broad-minded, and courageously prophetic man. He was hardly a racist, which was the main focus of his Good Samaritan account. And Yeshua clearly and painfully understood the importance of a separation of state and religion.
The term “the great replacement” was coined by a French nationalist writer, Renaud Camus (b. 1946), in his 2011 book titled Le Grand Remplacement. Camus argued that white Europeans are being “colonized” by non-white immigrants and face a threat of “extinction.” Former U.S. President Trump propelled the replacement theory into mainstream U.S. politics with his fear of white U.S. Americans being “replaced by minorities.” And most recently it has inspired Marine LePen and her party in France.
The extremist ideology that non-white immigration will ultimately destroy white values and western civilization has found favor with the top media figure on Fox News as well as quite a collection of politicians, who have convinced themselves that Democrats are operating an open-door immigration policy to “replace” Republican voters with people of color.
U.S. society is going through very difficult days. More than ever there is a great need for well informed people, for critical thinking, and for courageous speech and action.
President Joseph Biden warned about U.S. racism on Tuesday, May 17th, when he observed: “White supremacy is a poison … and it’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes.” I agree with the President but would stress that the country is facing twin inter-connected socio-cultural poisons: racism and gun violence. During an address from the Roosevelt Room at the White House after news of the yesterday’s mass killing in Texas, President Biden said: “Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone?”
Well, it is indeed a strange culture that bans books and bans Cuban cigars but not guns. I call it the gun culture.
For your summer reading about the gun culture, I recommend: Enough!: Solving America’s Gun Violence Crisis by Thomas Gabor (Center for the Study of Gun Violence, 2019). The author is a Canadian criminologist who was a professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa for thirty years. He received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1983. Since his retirement, Thomas Gabor has worked as a consultant on gun violence, crime, and related issues.
And for summer reading about racism and replacement, I recommend a book by Kathleen Belew, assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago and an international authority on the white-power movement. Her book is: Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America. (Harvard University Press, 2018)
I am not running away from the issues, but I am running away from “For Another Voice” for a while. In keeping with my annual tradition, I will be away from my blog for about a month. Periodically, we all need time to relax, reflect, and refresh body and spirit.
I hope to be back with you around the Fourth of July.
Many kind regards.